Raphael Varane capped off a fine personal season by lifting the World Cup with France, having already won the Champions League with Real Madrid earlier in 2018.
Varane, who could be considered an unsung hero of both sides, made the World Cup his 16th major trophy, just eight years after making his professional debut at Lens.
Seven years at Real have seen the defender make 233 appearances and score 10 goals, while he has won four Champions Leagues, three Club World Cups, three European Super Cups, two league titles, two Spanish Super Cups and the Copa del Rey.
Quite incredibly, over that period, he has featured in 10 one-off finals – including seven in the last two years – and won every single one of them.
Even more interestingly, he sat out Real’s 2013 loss to Atletico in the Copa Del Rey showpiece, while a thigh injury saw him miss the 2016 Champions League final which ended in a draw – though Real defeated their rivals on penalties – as well as France’s Euro 2016 defeat to Portugal.
We’ve taken a look at each of the 10 finals that Varane has played a part in, starting just four years ago.
OK, it wasn’t the most glamorous of starts to the run, but Varane was the third of Real’s substitutes all made after Gareth Bale’s 85th minute winner against Barcelona as Carlo Ancelotti ran down the clock in Valencia.
Marc Bartra’s header had cancelled out an 11th minute opener from Angel Di Maria before Bale’s memorable winner – sprinting off the field to get round Bartra and race into the box before slotting under Jose Manuel Pinto.
Unlike in the Copa Del Rey, Varane was picked ahead of Pepe for another memorable showdown as Real faced inner-city rivals Atletico in a final which would commence a run of four Champions League wins in five years for Los Blancos.
Sergio Ramos headed a 93rd-minute equaliser before Real ran riot in the second period of extra time, Varane one of 12 players to see yellow in the match following a confrontation with Diego Simeone after Cristiano Ronaldo’s penalty sealed the 4-1 victory.
Manager Jose Mourinho had already been full of praise for the Frenchman earlier in the year, saying: “I think he is the best young central defender in the world. Already I think he’s the best.”
Another late substitute appearance as Varane was still finding it difficult to break the Ramos-Pepe partnership (and was only 21 years of age), coming on in the 89th minute of a comfortable 2-0 win over Argentine club San Lorenzo.
Man-of-the-match Ramos scored in the first half before Bale added a second not long after the restart to give Real their first Club World Cup title since the competition was founded on the turn of the millennium.
Varane had sat out the penalty shoot-out win over Atletico in the Champions League final earlier in the year, as well as missing France’s Euro 2016 final defeat to Portugal thanks to a thigh problem.
In the Super Cup, Marco Asensio scored an absolutely outrageous debut goal to put Real in front against Europa League winners Sevilla, but Ramos had to be on hand again to equalise in the third minute of stoppage time after he had conceded a penalty to allow Jorge Sampaoli’s side to take a 2-1 lead.
Dani Carvahal netted a stunning solo goal to win the tie in the 119th minute.
— Severin Jahn (@severin_jahn) August 16, 2017
A much more regular starter by this point, Varane played all 120 minutes of another extra-time win, over Japanese club Kashima Antlers in the final of the 2016 Club World Cup.
Karim Benzema had opened the scoring before Kashima came back to lead in Yokohama, Ronaldo sending the tie to extra time before completing a hat-trick in the additional minutes to win the match 4-2.
Having been handed the No.5 shirt at the start of the campaign, Varane led Real to their fourth title of the season, and the first time the club had ever won La Liga and the Champions League in the same campaign.
The final in Cardiff was a fairly routine win for Real, despite Mario Mandzukic cancelling out Ronaldo’s opener, with the Portuguese scoring his second of the match in between goals from Casemiro and Asensio.
“I didn’t imagine this, that is the truth and that’s the reason I’m really enjoying everything that is happening to me,” Varane said before the final.
“I have improved a lot and I feel the confidence of my coach and team-mates. I always try to give my best and gradually I’m growing and getting better in each facet of the game.”
Casemiro was once again on the score sheet as Real retained the Super Cup with a 2-1 victory over former manager Mourinho’s Manchester United.
Isco, who was awarded man of the match in Macedonia, put his side two up before Romelu Lukaku pulled one back for United, he and Marcus Rashford missing big chances as Varane and his defence held out to see the Super Cup won by a Spanish club for the eighth time in nine years.
And to continue a phenomenal two years under Zinedine Zidane, his side also retained the Club World Cup, beating Brazilian side Gremio 1-0 in the final last December, winning their fifth title of the calendar year having also lifted the Spanish Supercopa.
Varane once again partnered Ramos in the heart of defence after Pepe brought an end to his illustrious Real career in the summer, Ronaldo becoming the first player to ever score in successive Club World Cup finals as his free-kick won the match.
In what proved to be Zidane’s final game in charge of the club, Real defeated a spirited Liverpool side 3-1 – thanks to a moment of magic and a couple of mistakes.
Sadio Mane had equalised after Karim Benzema capitalised on Loris Karius’ first error, before Bale hit *that* stunning overhead kick, adding a third when his shot slipped through Karius’ fingers.
Tactical view of Bale's jaw-dropping goal at the Champions League Final vs Liverpool. One of the best goals, if not the best goal in a final for Champions League, a goal to be remembered for years !!! 🤸♂️⚽️🏆 #UCLfinal #RealMadridLiverpool pic.twitter.com/vJtjFt5c3m
— Kelvin Galvez (@CoachGalvez) May 28, 2018
Varane was praised for his quiet yet invaluable contribution in a World Cup which saw his France side keep four clean sheets and lift the trophy with a thrilling 4-2 win over Croatia in the final.
“It’s been a great season for me,” he said after the game. “I don’t realise what I am living through. It is something enormous and fantastic.
“My career began spectacularly, and now at 25, I’ve won the World Cup. I have no words for what I feel. I hope this continues.”